Racism and Urban “Unrest”

Teresa Nielsen Hayden has a terrific post over at “Making Light,” in which she dissects current reports that police are concerned about urban “unrest” if Obama loses the election (hat tip to Paul at Brainstorms).  Nielsen Hayden (last name corrected, thanks to Tom W.) refers to this article at The HIll, the leading newspaper of Congress and Capitol Hill, and here’s the relevant bit from that article:

Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations. Others based the need for enhanced patrols on past riots in urban areas (following professional sports events) and also on Internet rumors.

Good grief.  I study, read and write about racism all the time and yet sometimes, I’m still shocked by it, as I was by this nasty turn of events.  Nielsen Hayden, for her part, is spot on and calls the report (and the police preparation) out for what it is:

This is setting up a fraudulent racist narrative: that any unrest on Election Day will consist of inner-city blacks rioting because the black candidate didn’t win. Some of the things that narrative fails to take into account:

—The most notable recent instance of rioting while an election was in progress did not involve a local urban black population. It was in Florida in 2000, and the rioters were known Republican campaign operatives brought into the state on the national Republican Party’s nickel.

She makes an excellent point.   And, when I read about the police preparation for “urban unrest,” I don’t think it’s meant to conjure the image of all those RNC staffers in their causal-Friday-Gap-wear (erroneously dubbed the “Brooks Brothers Riot,” but they just weren’t that well dressed).  Nielsen Hayden goes on in the rest of her post to detail other parts of this “fraudulent racist narrative,” and if you’re following the election closely I highly recommend reading her post in full.